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Understanding Anxiety Within Canines

Living beings, whether animals or humans, surely don't enjoy experiencing anxiety. Throughout my experience with numerous dogs and their owners struggling with severe anxiety, I must say, it's truly a challenging situation to handle. How can one truly enjoy life when constantly plagued by anxiety? It's worth noting that anxiety in dogs can lead to various health issues, potentially shortening their lifespan. Chronic anxiety has been associated with reduced longevity and an increased likelihood and severity of illnesses.

This condition adversely affects the immune system by causing an excess of stress hormones. While cortisol is a crucial hormone that aids in stress responses, metabolism, and other bodily functions, an overabundance of it can be detrimental. This stress hormone can decrease the production of white blood cells, which are essential for protecting a dog's body against infections and bacteria. Therefore, focusing on preventing anxiety and reducing stress in your dog is vital for their overall well-being. Interestingly, fear in dogs tends to decrease with age, while phobias tend to increase. While some level of fear in puppies is normal, it's crucial to address signs of anxiety promptly with the help of a trainer to positively reshape their mindset before fear escalates into a phobia.

In an upcoming blog post, we will delve into the ten common forms of anxiety that are crucial to recognize. Once fear escalates into phobias, it becomes notably difficult to completely undo the impact of their triggers. These phobias represent an amplified fear response, making it overwhelming for your dog to cope and leading to behaviors such as fleeing, fighting, or freezing in response to triggers. This can pose significant safety concerns.

Anxiety in dogs is often linked to genetic predispositions, inadequate socialization, or negative past experiences. In cases of intense fears or phobias, medication may be necessary. Some anxiety medications can assist in pain relief, boost serotonin levels for dogs with deficiencies, and reduce elevated cortisol levels. However, finding the right dosage and prescription tailored to your dog may take time and could potentially worsen the situation. Therefore, it is advisable to prioritize behavioral training over medication, as some individuals opt for drugs as a quick fix instead of addressing underlying behavioral issues.

What can you do to assist your dog in overcoming its fears instead of working against them? Keep an eye on our blog for an in-depth exploration of desensitizing fears and utilizing counter-conditioning and response substitution techniques to help your dog shift from anxiety, reactivity, or aggression to calm confidence.

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